by contributing writer Kristen Webb
Reflections on 'Made To Crave' by Lysa TerKeurst
How do you figure out what is a healthy diet?
Because of some OCD tendencies - or maybe perfectionism - or maybe just being a girl - I have some food baggage from my past. This baggage was not something I was able to get over on my own so I was going to need God's help to revisit my issues. I prayed for wisdom and strength and I gave the whole confusing, mangled food-mess in my mind to God.
Like pulling a band aid off fast, God clearly revealed that my first issue was perfectionism. God really is the ultimate counselor and it is so neat that He can supernaturally reveal relevant stuff in your head.
I had not been in pursuit of a healthy diet but the perfect diet - free from all errors and all imperfect food. This was not a reasonable or even doable goal. My first clue should have been when I went to the food experts to find the perfect foods and they couldn't agree about what was good and what was bad. Furthermore, various experts have something bad to say about most foods, disqualifying pretty much all food known to man. No wonder I was frustrated and stressed out! There was no way I could succeed at the perfect diet - I was already set up to fail!
For instance, if I ate a salad but had salad dressing on it I felt bad about the salad dressing because it is not a perfectly good food. If I was really being a successful dieter I would have salad without the dressing. But let's be honest - that is not even worth eating! Every time I ate something questionable (all food known to man) my anxiety level would go through the roof! I was a mess emotionally and that just made me want to each large quantities of the kind of food all the experts agreed was really bad for me. I got overwhelmed and decided not to make any firm guidelines, but I still felt bad about just about everything I put in my mouth.
I know God wants me to establish what healthy eating is for me and I can see now that I have to get over trying to do it perfectly.
I think I am also easily overwhelmed because my food choices are already limited by allergies and sensitivities. I was feeling sick all the time. A few years ago I went to a natural-pathologist who did a blood test to determine what food I am sensitive to. Her tests showed I needed to pretty much avoid wheat and Lima beans and limit my intake of eggs, sugar, unprocessed milk, and almonds. The Lima beans I have not had any trouble living without but I consume way too much of the other stuff on a regular basis. Because I have been distracted by finding the perfect diet I have not had the energy to limit these things I already know I should avoid. I should not have wheat more than once a week and only small amounts of eggs, sugar, milk and almonds but I have been avoiding making this a firm guideline. I feel sick when I cheat on this stuff but I still have been binging on it. But no more! I solemnly declare to everyone who is listening that I will only have wheat once a week and only very small amounts of eggs, sugar, milk and almonds. I will not binge or eat a whole package of chocolate chip cookies by myself. I also have been not looking after my hypoglycemia. This is a clear medical condition and is easily managed. I need to make eating smaller portions often and combining sugars and starches with protein a clear guideline in my healthy eating to avoid feeling sick and dizzy. So shall it be! I know that this is easier said than done so I pray that God will be my strength and I admit I need His help.
Okay, so avoiding some foods is clear from a medical standpoint but what about the vast number of other foods that the experts disagree about?
My strategy to avoid all imperfect foods has not been working so what should I do to find healing? Some wise women at the Made to Crave study suggested I try balance instead of extremes like perfectionism. I need to let go of trying to do it perfectly and seek God to find a way to do it balanced. I should not worry about what the dueling experts disagree about, just look at the basics they all agree on. Also I need to get up to date information on what healthy eating really is.
Perfect food is a myth and the reality is that most food has some good qualities and some not so good. The balance is to eat the nourishing food that has lots of good in it and only small amounts of unhealthy content. A little bit of fat in the dressing does not disqualify salad from being a good choice. I need to measure my success by eating healthy not by eating perfectly. In being balanced I also need to avoid (or limit to very small portions) any food that does not have much healthy content. My diet is not an epic fail if I have salad dressing on my salad but eating a whole box of turtles is not success either. I can rejoice in all the good the greens give me and rejoice that I am not having a dangerous amount of fat but a balanced amount in the dressing. I can look to the Canada Food Guide for the specifics to find a starting point of balanced, healthy eating. Then I can celebrate each food victory each time I make a healthy choice.
I need to give myself some food "Grace" and stop being a tyrant to myself. This is especially important because my choices are already limited by my sensitivities. I need to get creative finding healthy options I can eat to replace the things in my diet that I can't have. I need to not feel bad if these options are not perfect, but rejoice in the good parts of them.
Continue with me in the following weeks as I take this food adventure with God.
Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters - one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years. You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith.